Environmental Groups Urge Action on Elk Grove Expansion Plans

February 2, 2018 |  

Two environmental groups that have continually expressed concern and fought the City of Elk Grove's expansion plans are again issuing a clarion call on the renewed efforts to enlarge the city into environmentally sensitive areas.

In opinion pieces from members of the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS), and the Mother Lode Chapter of the Sierra Club, the public is being urged to attend meetings on the expansion plans that will be held at the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO). The next meeting on the expansion plans will be heard this coming Wednesday.

In his piece titled Elk Grove and the ecological health of the north Delta ECOS member Sean Wirth argues the expansion plans will have devastating effects on not only the land but various species. Among the most vulnerable species, Wirth explains is the Greater Sandhill Crane.

Like humans, this species, which occupies the area in the 100-year floodplain, flee to higher ground as flooding occurs. It is in this area on the edge of the floodplain that the city seeks to expand.

Wirth argues "When the cyclical flooding occurs, these birds look for the closest upland forage opportunities to their roost sites. All of the unincorporated lands south of Elk Grove serve this important purpose and the prospect of all of those lands being developed down to the floodplain would be catastrophic to the Crane and many other species that rely on un-flooded terrestrial habitat for their survival."

Further complicating matters, Wirth argues "is that the most conservative modeling for the impacts of global sea level rise in the north Delta indicate that basically all of the current lands set aside for the Greater Sandhill Cranes, and hundreds of other terrestrial species, are going to be threatened with permanent inundation as the symptoms of climate change accrue."

Although the City of Elk Grove was stymied in their attempts to expand their boundaries by approximately 8,000-acres via the sphere of influence application process before Sacramento LAFCO in November 2013, this proposed 1,800-acre expansion is being sought by private developers. The City has not issued an opinion, but the sentiment of the Elk Grove City Council has been to expand boundaries for the behest of real estate developers and construction trade unions, who have contributed to four of the five current members, remains unchanged.

Andy Sawyer, chair of the Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter, argues the proposed expansion will add to suburban sprawl and eliminate valuable agricultural and habitat for a variety of species. Additionally, Sawyer asserts the sprawl will contribute more greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.

Noting the importance of engaging LAFCO's, Sawyer says "by statute, the purposes of the LAFCOs include 'discouraging urban sprawl' and 'preserving open-space and prime agricultural lands.' Too often, however, county LAFCOs ignore this direction, rubber stamping local applications for sprawl and leapfrog development."

Referencing the successful efforts to push back the city's most recent pursuit of expansion, Sawyer notes "four years ago we won an important victory when the Sacramento County LAFCO turned down the City of Elk Grove’s application to sprawl into important agricultural land and habitat in the Delta. But now Elk Grove is back, hoping that changes in LAFCO membership will yield a different result." 

Elk Grove City Council Member Pat Hume is the current chairperson of the Sacramento LAFCO. Along with opposition from these groups, the Sacramento County Farm Bureau is fighting the expansion efforts.

The Sacramento LAFCo meeting is on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors building at 700 H Street, Sacramento.


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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

..."the public is being urged to attend meetings on the expansion plans that will be held at the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO)"...

That's a good one! LOL

The environmentalists want to protect wildlife habitat.

The Grove residents want higher quality retail and other "essential services".

If Jimmy The Greek were alive today, wonder what he would put the odds at?

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